The safest pair of hands in video games

There are always little symbols to look out for that can help you figure out if a game’s going to be worthwhile. Once upon a time it might have been Nintendo’s seal of quality, or maybe the logo of your favourite developer – back in the day it was Treasure’s magic box, perhaps, or more recently the glimmering P of Platinum Games. In recent years, there’s another logo I’ve always kept an eye out for, a symbol that’s a guarantee of quality, and a certain little spark. Quite often, though, you have to look really hard for it.

Sumo Digital isn’t the most widely known developer out there, though that’s mostly by design. Since it was founded in 2003, the Sheffield studio has quietly built a strong reputation. It caught my attention with 2004’s OutRun 2 port on Xbox, won my heart with OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast and by the time Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed was released in 2012 – the best Mario Kart game, until Mario Kart 8 came along at least – I was well and truly in love. You may well have played a Sumo Digital game before without realising it. I’m fairly sure you’ll have enjoyed it, too.

“It’s one of those things,” says COO Paul Porter. “We’ve always done things under the radar, because it’s other people’s IP. The story’s not about Sumo, the story’s about the game, the publisher and the IP owner. We’ve always kept quiet in the background.” Some of Sumo’s work is even a surprise to me, a self-confessed fan of the studio – it was only upon meeting up with Sumo at last December’s PlayStation Experience that I realised it was responsible for Colorado, one of the new Hitman’s episodes, and there’s plenty more unheralded work besides.

NieR: Automata’s PS4 demo draws nier

NieR: Automata, Platinum Games’ sequel to Square Enix’s delightfully bonkers action-adventure Nier, is getting a PS4 demo on 22nd December.

The demo will be set in an abandoned factory as android 2B and their companions seek to destroy a massive weapon within. My guess is that it will be the robot boss battle revealed from the .

Square Enix also revealed the game’s fancy , which includes a figurine of 2B, hardback artbook, original soundtrack, code for bonus DLC, and a steelbook case, all housed within a sleek black Collector’s Edition box.

NieR: Automata is coming to PC too

NieR: Automata, Platinum Games’ sequel to Cavia’s cult classic action-RPG Nier, will be coming to Steam along with PS4 upon its release early next year, Square Enix has announced.

NieR: Automata is only tangentially related to the first Nier as this one follows a new set of characters with a very different storyline. The game centers around a trio of androids fighting their way through a wasteland of robots after mankind retreated to the moon following an alien invasion.

On the surface, this doesn’t seem to have very much to do with Nier at all. But the original game’s director, Yoko Taro (who also helmed Drakengards 1 and 3), is returning for Automata and he’s joined by Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance game designer Takahisa Taura, along with Nier composer Keiichi Okabe.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan review

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade machine is an oddity which, despite not being all that great, enraptured a generation of players. The XBLA re-release’s incredible sales suggests most of them still play games and, for whatever reasons, Turtles arcade is one of those games that has a little bit of resonance. Not least because most other video game interpretations of the Turtles, which seem to be prime ‘game’ material, have fallen so woefully short.

Even before Mutants in Manhattan was announced there was some buzz about the potential of it on social media – maybe it was a marketing plant, but it was one that worked because the combination made sense. Platinum Games, the action specialists, with a beloved action license – and if Transformers Devastation was anything to go by, the least we could expect is a solid brawler with a beautiful nostalgia-kneading visual style. This would have been an acceptable outcome but, for reasons best known to itself, Platinum has chosen instead to spin the wheel and bet it all on the number four.

There are good reasons for focusing on co-op multiplayer, of course, not least the fact that the Turtles are a foursome. But it’s worth establishing upfront that of all the things it gets wrong, Mutants in Manhattan offers a below-par single-player experience. There are many reasons for why it feels so empty but the crux is that this is a game designed with an ideal scenario in mind – which is four players co-oping. Once you understand this, things like the short, randomised stages and the power of the turtles’ abilities when comboed begin to make sense. In a reversal of normal roles, single-player ends up feeling like the offshoot.